3365 Quantum Continuum.
A new calculation paradigm makes computations more efficient. The quantum continuum is a huge progress in science and technology. Simulations are greatly accelerated achieving absolute accuracy. The days of discrete quantum computers are over. The continuum is much better giving a new push to technology in general.
Science and technology have stagnated for a long time. Though the so-called standard tech level – the technology of the interstellar civilization – is very advanced, it is hardly developing any further. Technology and its scientific foundations having attained high complexity, manufacture and operation of modern large-scale appliances have become very difficult. They are based on scientific principles that only a few sophonts (augmented humans, aliens or AIs) fully understand.
The capabilities of everyday objects in the middle of the fourth millennium appear like magic. A private autofab produces everything people need in daily life intelligent matter can take any desired form, and field screens generate almost immaterial objects. Such everyday technology is highly developed and has been optimized for centuries. Still, this is the more conventional part of the standard tech level.
The means of production used to make everyday objects are in a totally different league. This includes large-scale industrial technology such as resource extraction and separation, the production of metamaterials as fab input, FTL drives with a thousand times the speed of light, and energy storage devices able to release the power equivalent of an entire star for short periods of time. These devices show the true technological capabilities of a civilization. They provide the infrastructure for modern everyday life making the fantastic life in the fourth millennium possible. This high-tech infrastructure is complex, difficult to manufacture, and difficult to operate reliably, because the devices must be very precise, often with spatial arrangements in the subatomic range, composed of perfect materials without defects or impurities. In operation, they process terawatts of power per cubic meter and their control requires computing power in the range of Exa-Qaps (Quantum Annealings per Second).
Against this background it is difficult to improve anything at all. Small changes to single parameters can cause other parameters to crash. Perfect defect-free materials cannot be improved any more. All known scientific principles have been exploited to their limits and new ones are not in sight. Therefore, technology stagnates at a high level. While only prosperous civilizations can afford these expensive technologies, they can at least keep the tech level. But further improvements are rare and even small advances require huge investments.
Progress has become rare, especially big steps like the paradigm shift from old discrete quantum computers to the quantum continuum. This step is comparable to the digitalization or the replacement of digital computers by quantum computers. The quantum continuum does not compute just a single value like a quantum computer. It calculates all results at once, thus producing the entire solution in analytical form. There are no more approximations, no iterations, no discrete steps, no simulations on a lattice. Now there are only complete globally exact solutions. Instead of quantum-supported numerics, which quickly delivered results for individual finite elements or voxels, there is now a new continuous paradigm. Continuous instead of discrete, final instead of iterative, global instead of local, perfect instead of approximated. And in addition, the quantum nature of the quantum continuum computes the complete solution at once.
This new method benefits all fields of science and technology: materials science, biosynthesis, product design, systems operation. All areas rely heavily on simulations. Simulations, compute models, are used in the search of new physics theories as well as in the planning of new products. The food industry simulates the effects of new functional viruses in detail before any virus is synthesized. A new autofab for the private household is simulated and optimized in its entire operation at the atomic level. Even new quantum hardware is tested virtually before being built.
Better simulations allow for more efficient and better devices. This gives a boost to all technical field. At last, technology can move forward. Improvements are still difficult, but now they are at least possible again. After hundreds of years of stagnation, FTL drives can finally be improved. Initially by 10 percent, then within 30 years, even more until the FTL factor will reach 6,000.
Many areas see similar progress. Improvements by 10 or 20 percent are common. That does not sound much compared to the exponential development of technology in the early third millennium. But as history has shown, the tech boom of the previous millennium turn was not really exponential. It was just the dynamic phase of a sigmoidal curve that reached saturation by the middle of the third millennium at the latest. From then on, progress was very costly. Most improvements came from outside while mankind was adapting to the interstellar tech level.
But with quantum continuum as lever, many sciences are now leaping to the next level. For the first time in history, humanity is contributing significantly to the interstellar tech level. Technology is pushing the envelope. Long established technological limits are overcome. Mankind reaches new heights.